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Fear Not Man’s Opinions

socialmedia@cityrise.org November 10, 2021 sermons, bible study, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Fear Not, houston, Roger Patterson, sermon, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday November 7, 2021 at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

I am going to begin this morning with a quiz. Who can tell me what fears are involved in the following words?

  • Syngenesophobia – Fear of Relatives. …
  • Papaphobia – Fear of The Pope. …
  • Xanthophobia – Fear of Yellow. …
  • Linonophobia – Fear of String. …
  • Arachibutyrophobia – Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to the Roof of One’s Mouth.
  • Allodoxaphobia- fear of others’ opinions

We are continuing our study called Fear Not…

It has been said…

“The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.”

Let’s read Psalm 118:1-6 today as we continue to consider this challenge to Fear Not!

Psalm 118:1-6

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?

Last week, we looked at the first five verses of this poetry. In this examination we didn’t say we wouldn’t fear or that we wouldn’t have struggles. But in the midst of our fears, we were challenged to FEAR GOD MORE.  Do you remember that call to worship? To GIVE THANKS to the Lord for he is good…the call to give thanks is the call to worship!

And fearing God more than our circumstances is to:

  • give him thanks for his leadership,
  • it’s to recall his faithfulness and
  • it’s to recognize he hears our prayers!

As we continue to study Psalm 118, we look now to verse 6 and it’s going to challenge us in how we find ourselves bound up in fear because of other people.

Look at Psalm 118:6.

Psalm 118:6

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

When we are afraid of others…

  1. We have a Rational Decision to Make.
  2. We Fall into a Trap
  3. We have Misplaced Trust

Let’s look at these one at a time.

When we are afraid of others…

I. We have a Rational Decision to Make

Look at the reason that David uses to remind challenge the fear racing through his life.

Psalm 118:6

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

David asks himself a question. He says:

“Self… you are distressed. You are afraid…and you have a decision to make. So, let’s get out of the emotional mind and into the rational mind. Self, let’s lay this out.  You see, don’t you God’s hand upon you, right?  You see, that you fought the lion, the tiger, and the bear, right?  And you see that you fought Goliath, and you took him out with five smooth stones…and you routed the Philistines…right?  Right….

Okay, self, you are distressed…I get it. You have enemies.  Saul, the king…he wanted you dead…but guess what? Here you sit.  Your sons have tried to take your throne…you have had advisors who were against you…other nations…

Self, what have you learned through all of those fights?  Anything?

What have you learned?

You have learned that God is for you…that God is on your side! Wow!  The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, does it?  Have Aaron shout it…have the nation shout it! Have the God-fearing converts shout it out as well!

Self, don’t forget who is on your side! The Lord!”

Friends, do you see it? Verse 5 shows us how distressed he is.

And so, what did he do?

He prayed.  He called out to God. And it was in prayer that truth came to him to speak to his emotions.

David had a rational decision to make to speak to the irrational escalation of his emotions – And the truth that came to him is this:

The Lord is on my side!

Other translations include “The Lord is for me” or the “The Lord is with me,” but many such as the ESV render the phrase as “The Lord is on my side.”

As Charles Spurgeon rightfully points out, this was not always the case.

Spurgeon said…

“Once his justice was against me, but now he is my reconciled God.”

Paul tells us in Romans that our position was actually as “enemies” (Rom. 5:10) before we were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. [1]

Commenting on the phrase, “God is for me,” John Piper suggests that David knew a great promise and a great atonement lie behind those words. However, David did not yet know what we know—that that atonement has a name: Jesus Christ. He trusted in God’s character and in a future deliverance, and we have the benefit of standing on the other side of the cross and seeing everything unfold with more clarity.[2]

We spent six weeks earlier this year unpacking in Romans 8. And in Romans chapter 8, the Apostle Paul comes to this climax…Do you remember?

Romans 8:31-32

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

 What does the PRESENCE or NEARNESS of the Lord mean to David?

 It is not that he won’t suffer, but that he won’t fear.

Spurgeon says…

“The favour of God infinitely outweighed the hatred of men, therefore setting the one against the other he felt that he had no reason to be afraid.”

And we know David was surrounded by enemies, and yet he could remain calm and confident.

You, today, can likewise remain calm and confident amidst your trials, and in doing so we honor and glorify the Lord when we trust him in this way.[3]

In Psalm 119, the very next psalm, we see exactly where David turns when he is afraid and feeling the pressures of this world creeping in. It is not only to the Lord, but also to his Word:

Psalm 119 Shows Us How David Goes to the Scriptures:

  • “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (Ps. 119:28)
  • “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” (Ps. 119:107).
  • “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word” (Ps. 119:114).
  • “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words” (Ps. 119:147).
  • “Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words” (Ps. 119:161).

Don’t neglect the Word of God when you are afraid. Going to the Scripture brings us comfort. It anchors us. It holds us. It ministers to us.

Let’s keep walking. The second thing I want you to see is this…

When we are afraid of others…

  1. We have a Rational Decision to Make.
  2. We Fall into a Trap
  3. We have Misplaced Trust

When we are afraid of others…

II. We Fall into a Trap

Look at Psalm 118:6 again.

Psalm 118:6

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

This verse concludes with the question, “What can man do to me?”

And the answer to that is actually, “An awful lot,”—yet only what God allows man to do.

Yet even when man gets the better of us, we have the assurance from Scripture (Rom. 8:28) that even in those moments God is working for our good and his glory. So, we don’t have to be bound up in fear.

Because the FEAR OF MAN IS A TRAP.

When we are afraid of others, we fall into a trap!

Look at Proverbs 29:25.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

And if we aren’t careful, we have

Nearly one in three adolescents will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18. Anxiety disorders have arisen 20 percent in children and teens over the past decade. What are the three biggest factors?

1) High expectations and pressure to succeed,

2) A world that feels scary and threatening, and

3) social media.

If we aren’t careful, our worldview and self-esteem are often determined by the responses of others to our social media posts.

And…If social media can’t persuade us, it will often strive to silence us.

Surgeo Bell helps us here when he says,

“What God knows about me is more important than what others think about me.”

Now some would argue that we live in a fearful time. Things are getting worse!

I would admit to some truth here.

In 1960 children were asked their greatest fears and the top five responses were:

  • animals,
  • being in a dark room,
  • high places,
  • strangers,
  • and loud noise.

Thirty years later:

  • divorce,
  • nuclear war,
  • cancer,
  • pollution,
  • and being mugged.

But today many people experience fear related to opinions NOT actions.

Fear of others is characterized as a snare or trap. It is a chain that we often embrace instead of rejecting.

Whose opinions are you fearing today? Your co-worker? Have you shared of your relationship with the Lord with her?

What about your kid’s teacher? Your neighbor? Your relative?


When we are afraid of others, we fall into a trap!

When we are afraid of others…

  1. We have a Rational Decision to Make.
  2. We Fall into a Trap
  3. We have Misplaced Trust

When we are afraid of others…

III. We have a Misplaced Trust

Look with me again at Proverbs 29:25.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Now, here is my logic to this. This last phrase says, “Whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” This is set in contrast to the previous line above. In other words, it is the opposite of fearing man.

So, we could conclude that when we become afraid of man, and live there, we are placing our trust in what that individual or group of individuals believes about us versus what our Lord believes about us.

We misplace our trust.

Jon Bloom of Desiring God offers great insight on the dangers of the fear of man. He explains that the person whom we fear the most is the one to whom we ultimately ascribe the most authority—because we want their approval the most. God has designed us this way, because it reveals who and what our heart loves.

As Matthew 6:21 states…

Matthew 6:21

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Bloom says…

And herein lies the major problem, as the person(s) whose reward of approval we desire most — whose curse of disapproval we most fear to receive — is the person(s) we will obey, our functional god.” This is why the Bible commands us so often to fear the Lord!

Look at it in Deuteronomy 10:12-13.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”

Look now at Matthew 10:28. Jesus said…

Matthew 10:28

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Both Moses and Jesus command us to love God supremely (Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37), and both of them command us to fear God supremely. They’re not mutually exclusive commands; they’re two sides of the same coin.

Bloom says…

They’re commanding us to seek the massive eternal reward of God’s approval more than puny man’s fleeting approval, and to fear the terrible eternal curse of God’s disapproval more than puny man’s fleeting disapproval. They’re commanding us to direct our love and fear to the right God.[4]

A Practical Approach to the Fear of Man

We all struggle with the fear of man to some degree. But what do we do about it? What practical steps can we take to replace our fear of man with a God-honoring fear of the Lord instead? In his book When People Are Big and God is Small, Ed Welch tackles this very subject. He outlines seven steps we can take in order to better fear God instead of man:

When People Are Big and God is Small…

Step 1: Recognize that the fear of man is a major theme both in the Bible and in your own life.

Step 2: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by people in your past.

Step 3: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by the assumptions of the world.

Step 4: Understand and grow in the fear of the Lord. The person who fears God will fear nothing else.

Step 5: Examine where your desires have been too big. When we fear people, people are big, our desires are even bigger, and God is small.

Step 6: Rejoice that God has covered your shame, protected you from danger, and accepted you. He has filled you with love.

Step 7: Need other people less, love other people more. Out of obedience to Christ, and as a response to his love toward you, pursue others in love.[5]



[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.

[2] John Piper was commenting on the phrase “God is for me” in Psalm 56:9-11 on Twitter.

[3] Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.

[4] Jon Bloom, “Lay Aside the Fear of Man,” www.desiringgod.org

[5] From Ed Welch’s When People are Big and God is Small, shared on www.thegospelcoalition.org by Justin Taylor.